The name Vigdis is composed of two elements: vig and dis. The name dis is a female protective spirit and vig translates to fight/war. Vigdis, in the norse mythology, was known as a female spirit (valkyrie) that protected those who fight. The Vígdís Freedom Foundation uses the old Norse spelling of the name.
Vigdís Finnbogadóttir is the protector of the Vígdís Freedom Foundation. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir is both Iceland's and the world’s first democratically-elected female president. She is a fantastic role model for women who fight for human rights and public recognition throughout the world. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir’s ideas and achievements as president of Iceland have also been an inspiration to the name of the Vígdís Freedom Foundation.
The Foundation is located in Oslo, Norway, where a secretariat will be established and board meetings are held.
The board consists of:
- Anne Christine Kroepelien
- Henrik P. Syse
- Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and board member of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee
- Fabian Stang
- Former mayor of Oslo (H) and politician
- Ernst Nortveit
- Professor at the faculty of Law University of Bergen
- Marina Nemat
- Iranian, former prisoner of conscience in Evin Prison Teheran and author of two books
- Erika Fatland
- Writer and social anthropologist
Governing principles for the Vígdís Freedom Foundation
1. The UN Human Rights declaration
The Vígdís Freedom Foundation believes that every person, irrespective of where they are born, live or temporarily stay has the rights as set out in the UN Declaration of Human Rights; and that the right to rely on this declaration is irrespective of whether or not the declaration has been signed and ratified by the country where a prisoner of conscience is detained.
2. Definition of “prisoners of conscience”
The Vígdís Freedom Foundation believes that no person should be arrested, detained or imprisoned because of their political, religious or other conscientiously held beliefs, ethnic origin, sex, colour, language, national or social origin, economic status, birth, sexual orientation or other status provided that they have neither used nor advocated illicit violence.
3. Professional legal advice in order to achieve a fair trial
Article 10 of the UN Human Rights declaration states that:
“Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.”
There are many reasons why an accused woman could be incapable of defending herself, including lack of knowledge of law, legal procedures or analysis of facts. The Vígdís Freedom Foundation believes that a necessary condition for achieving a “fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal” is the right to be represented by legal counsel of own choice.
The right to legal counsel means that a defendant has the right to be represented and assisted during trial by a legal professional. The right to counsel is not explicitly included in the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
4. The Vígdís Freedom Foundation supports only women prisoners of conscience
The Vígdís Freedom Foundation is founded by Anne Christine Kroepelien who is a lawyer and a politician, and who believes that women must “stand together and support each other”. The Vígdís Freedom Foundation believes that it is in the interest of society to recognise that women have the same human and political rights as men.
5. Part-payment for legal defence of female prisoner of conscience
Normally, the Vígdís Freedom Foundation can pay up to 50 % of legal costs.